The history of Amarillo College:

Main entrance to Polk Street auditorium where AC first held class. Archive courtesy photo.

By Mackenzie Farmer:

In the late 1920s Amarillo was the largest city in Texas without a public college due to earlier failure to establish a state college. Two citizens, George Ordway and James O. Guleke introduced a house bill that would establish junior college districts and Amarillo Junior College was the first born under this act.

September 1929, Amarillo Junior College began its first classes which were held in a municipal auditorium. The college started with seven faculty and 86 students enrolled with B.E. Masters as president.

Almost ten years later in 1937, the college moved to its own campus on Washington Street. In 1966, AC established the West Campus next to the Harrington Regional Medical Center.

The college grew rapidly and quickly gained accreditation as well as more vocational courses being offered. By 1939 a flying school was established and in 1941 a national defense vocational training school began to supply personnel to defense industries for WWII.

By 1941 AC began to offer courses in radio and television beginning in 1956 in its own studios. For many years AC was the only college in the state to offer a major in photographic technology.

In 1951 AC was the first public college in Texas to accept African American students in the undergraduate program.

Helping to provide more of a focus on the arts for students, Amarillo Art Center opened in 1972. The center was a three-building complex with an art museum, museum building and a concert hall. In 1984, AC opened the largest natural history museum of any two-year college in the country.

AC has grown and expanded campuses across the panhandle, including the East Campus, formally Amarillo Technical Center, in 1995, the Moore County Campus in 2000, the Herford Campus in 2005 and the Medipark Campus in 2017.

AC has continued to flourish over the years with the expansion of campuses and addition of programs.

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